Hawaii (Hawaiian/Hawaiian English: Hawai‘i, with the ‘okina) is the archipelago of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii constitutes the 50th state of the United States. It was admitted on August 21, 1959. As of the 2000 U.S. Census it had a population of 1,211,537 people. Honolulu is the largest city and the state capital.
This state most recently admitted into the Union has many distinctions. In addition to possessing the southernmost point in the United States, it is the only state that lies completely in the tropics. As one of two states outside the contiguous United States (the other being Alaska), it is the only one without territory on the mainland of any continent and is the only state that continues to grow due to active lava flows, most notably from Kîlauea. Ethnically, it is the only state that has a majority group that is non-white (and one of only three in which non-Hispanic whites do not form a majority) and has the largest percentage of Asian Americans. Ecologically and agriculturally, it is the endangered species capital of the world and is the only industrial producer of coffee and chocolate in the United States.
Hawaii is also the namesake and backdrop of a popular 1959 novel by James Michener and its 1966 movie adaptation.
The state constitution and various other measures of the Hawai‘i State Legislature established official symbols meant to embody the distinctive culture and heritage of Hawai‘i. These include a state bird, state fish, state flower, state gem, state mammal and state tree. Included are the two statues representing Hawai‘i in the United States Capitol.
The primary symbol is the state flag, Ka Hae Hawai‘i, influenced by the Union Jack and features eight horizontal stripes representing the eight major Hawaiian Islands. The constitution declares the state motto to be Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, a pronouncement of King Kamehameha III meaning, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." It was also the motto of the kingdom, republic and territory. The official languages are Hawaiian and Hawaiian English. Hawaiian Pidgin is an unofficial language. The state song is Hawai‘i pono‘i, written by King Kalâkaua and composed by Henri Berger. Hawai‘i Aloha is the unofficial state song, often sung in official state events.
Nineteen islands and atolls extending across a distance of 2,400 km (1,500 mi) comprise the Hawaiian Archipelago. The main islands are the eight high islands at the southeastern end of the island chain. These islands are, in order from the northwest to southeast, Ni‘ihau, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lâna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, Maui and the Island of Hawai‘i.
All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes arising from the sea floor through a vent described in geological theory as a hotspot. The theory maintains that as the tectonic plate beneath much the Pacific Ocean moves in a northwesterly direction, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. This explains why only volcanoes on the the southern half of the Island of Hawai‘i are presently active. The last volcanic eruption outside the Island of Hawai‘i happened at Haleakala on Maui in the late 18th century. The newest volcano to form is Lo‘ihi, deep below the waters off the south coast of the Island of Hawai‘i.
The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the wide range of environments to be found on high islands located in and near the tropics has resulted in a vast array of endemic flora and fauna. The volcanic activity and subsequent erosion created impressive geological features. Those conditions created made Mount Wai‘ale‘ale the wettest place on earth; it averages 11.7 m (460 in) of rain annually.
The movement of the Hawaiian royal family from the Island of Hawai‘i to Maui and subsequently to O‘ahu explains why certain population centers exist where they do today. The largest city, Honolulu, was the one chosen by King Kamehameha III as the capital of his kingdom due to the natural harbor there, the present-day Honolulu Harbor. Other large cities and towns include Hilo, Kahului and Lîhu‘e
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French Polynesia is a French overseas "country" in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island, and the seat of the capital of the territory (Papeete).
The Hawaiian Islands is an archipelago of nineteen islands and atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts trending northwest by southeast in the North Pacific Ocean between latitudes 19° N and 29° N.